Mahesh Lakshman


Areas of Expertise/Research

  • Chemical Methodologies
  • Metal Catalysis
  • Nucleoside Chemistry
  • Organic Synthesis


Marshak Science Building








Mahesh Lakshman


Prof. Lakshman obtained his Ph.D. degree from the University of Oklahoma and did postdoctoral work as a Fogarty Fellow at the National Institutes of Health (NIDDK).  He then took up an industrial position as Senior Scientist before returning to academia 1998.  Prof. Lakshman started his academic career at the University of North Dakota before joining CCNY. From 2008-2011, Prof. Lakshman was the Executive Officer for the CUNY Ph.D. program in Chemistry and from 2013-2017 he served as one of two Vice Chairs for the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.


B.Sc. University of Bombay
M.Sc. University of Bombay
MS University of Oklahoma
Ph.D. University of Oklahoma
Postdoctoral Research at the National Institutes of Health

Courses Taught

Chemistry 261 (Undergraduate, Organic Chemistry 1, lecture)
Chemistry 262 (Undergraduate, Organic Chemistry 1, laboratory)
Chemistry 210 (Undergraduate, Applied Chemistry for Biomedical Engineers, lecture, partial)
Chemistry B5000 (Masters, Organic Mechanisms, lecture)
Chemistry B5100 (Masters, Organic Synthesis, lecture)
Chemistry B5200 (Masters, Spectroscopy and Structural Proof in Organic Chemistry, lecture)
Chemistry Chem75000 (Ph.D., Advanced Organic Chemistry I, lecture)
Chemistry Chem75100 (Ph.D., Advanced Organic Chemistry II, lecture)
Chemistry Chem80511 (Ph.D., Organic Seminar)

Research Interests

Prof. Lakshman's research is in organic chemical synthesis pertaining to questions of biological interest. The program has many facets but can be broadly divided into the following areas.

A. Nucleoside Modifications. Nucleosides are highly important biomolecules that are ubiquitous in living systems. They figure prominently at the forefront in the treatment and/or control of viral diseases and cancer. We are developing new metal-catalyzed, uncatalyzed, and hypervalent iodine reagent-mediated routes for access to novel nucleoside structures. We also assess reaction mechanisms and the biological values of the new compounds that are obtained via our new routes.

B. Synthesis of Novel Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. Some polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are involved in DNA damage after metabolic activation while others are interesting compounds for the development of novel materials. In order to study both structural and biological effects of DNA damage by environmental pollutants as well as for development of novel materials, we are involved with developing syntheses of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and their derivatives.

C. Approaches Towards Indole Core Structures. Recently, we have been developing a new approach to the indole motif that can be found in a variety of natural products and synthetic compounds such as pharmaceuticals.

D. New Chemical Methodology. New methods to create molecules, and new physiologically important molecules are developed, via new approaches.

Research is conducted with the idea that fundamental understanding drives new chemistry. Thus, every aspect of our chemical methodology and synthesis developments aims to obtain a sound understanding of mechanistic organic chemistry, as this is integral to furthering the research projects.

Our research programs have been funded by The National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) and The National Science Foundation.

We also maintain several active collaborations in the US and internationally, to support our research activities.


Representative Recent Publications (2008-present are listed below)

Lakshman, M. K.*; Sebastian, D.; Pradhan, P.; Neary, M. C.; Piette, A. M.; Trzebiatowski, S. P.; Henriques, A. E. K.; Willoughby, P. H. Nitrene C–H bond insertion approach to carbazolones and indolones, and a reactivity departure for 7-membered analogues. Chemistry A European Journal 202329, e202302995. DOI: 10.1002/chem.202302995

Persaud, K. E.; Knyazev, A.; Sarrar, R.; Lakshman, M. K.* Catalytic reduction of cinnamyl alcohol by in situ generated hydrogen gas and NMR assessments of the product(s). The Chemical Educator 202328, 141–145. DOI: 10.1333/s00897232984a

Invited Personal Account (peer reviewed)
Lakshman, M. K.* Base modifications of nucleosides via the use of peptide-coupling agents, and beyond. The Chemical Record 2022,

Special Collection cover designed by M. K. Lakshman

Sebastian, D.; Willoughby, P. H.; Lakshman, M. K.* Cross-dehydrogenative coupling of ethers and amides with tautomerizable quinazolinones and mechanistic studies. Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry 202220, 5735–5746. DOI: 10.1039/D2OB00874B
Featured on the front cover of issue 29

OBC Cover

Singh, M. K.*; Lakshman, M. K.* Recent developments in the utility of saturated azaheterocycles in peptidomimetics. Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry 202220, 963–979. DOI: 10.1039/D1OB01329G


Akula, H. K.; Bae, S.; Pradhan, P.; Yang, L.; Zajc, B.*; Lakshman, M. K.* Diversely C8-functionalized adenine nucleosides via their underexplored carboxaldehydes. Chemical Communications 2022, 58, 1744–1747. DOI: 10.1039/D1CC06686B


Sebastian, D.; Satishkumar, S.; Pradhan, P.; Yang, L.; Lakshman, M. K.* General approach to N6,C5-difunctionalization of adenosine. The Journal of Organic Chemistry 202287, 18–30. DOI: 10.1021/acs.joc.1c01587

Korvinson, K. A.; Akula, H. K.; Malinchak, C. T.; Sebastian, D.; Khandaker, T. A.; Andrzejewska, M. R.; Zajc, B.*; Lakshman, M. K.* Catalytic reductions without external hydrogen gas: broad scope hydrogenations with tetrahydroxydiboron and a tertiary amine. Advanced Synthesis and Catalysis 2020, 362, 166–176. DOI: 10.1002/adsc.201901099
Featured on the cover of issue 1


Khandaker, T. A.; Hess, J. D.; Aguilera, R.; Andrei, G.; Snoeck, R.; Schols, D.; Pradhan, P.; Lakshman, M. K.* Synthesis and evaluations of "1,4-triazolyl combretacoumarins" and desmethoxy analogues. European Journal of Organic Chemistry 2019, 5610-5623. DOI: 10.1002/ejoc.201900569


Invited Protocol (peer reviewed)
Akula, H. K.; Lakshman, M. K.* Facile modifications at the C4 position of pyrimidine nucleosides via in situ activation with 1H-benzotriazol-1-yloxy-tris(dimethylamino)phosphonium hexafluorophosphate. Current Protocols in Nucleic Acid Chemistry 201976, e73. DOI: 10.1002/cpnc.73
Featured on the front cover of issue 1


Andrzejewska, M. R.; Vuram, P. K.; Gurram, V.; Pottabathini, N.; Relangi, S. S.; Korvinson, K. A.; Doddipalla, R.; Stahl, L.; Neary, M. C.; Pradhan, P.; Sharma, S.; Lakshman, M. K.* The disappearing director: the case of N-arylation via a removable hydroxyl group. Advanced Synthesis and Catalysis 2018360, 2503–2510. DOI: 10.1002/adsc.201701611


Invited Review (peer reviewed)
Lakshman, M. K.*; Zajc, B.* When nucleoside chemistry met hypervalent reagents. Arkivoc 2018ii, 252–279. DOI: 10.24820/ark.5550190.p010.281


Satishkumar, S.; Poudapally, S.; Vuram, P. K.; Gurram, V.; Yang, L.; Pottabathini, N.; Sebastian, D.; Yang, L.; Pradhan, P.; Lakshman, M. K.* Pd-catalyzed versus uncatalyzed PhI(OAc)2-mediated cyclization reactions of N6-([1,1'-biaryl]-2-yl)adenine nucleosides. ChemCatChem 20179, 4058–4069. DOI: 10.1002/cctc.201700918
Featured on the front cover of issue 21


Lakshman, M. K.*; Vuram, P. K. Cross-dehydrogenative coupling and oxidative-amination reactions of ethers and alcohols with aromatics and heteroaromatics. Chemical Science 20178, 5845–5888. DOI: 10.1039/c7sc01045a
Among "the top 5% of highly cited authors" in the General Chemistry portfolio of RSC journals in 2018


Akula, H. K.; Kokatla, H.; Andrei, G.; Snoeck, R.; Schols, D.; Balzarini, J; Lakshman, M. K.* Facile functionalization at the C4 position of pyrimidine nucleosides via amide group activation with (benzotriazol-1-yloxy)tris(dimethyl-amino)phosphonium hexafluorophosphate (BOP) and biological evaluations of the products. Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry 201715, 1130–1139. DOI: 10.1039/c6ob02334g


Satishkumar, S.; Lakshman, M. K.* Benzimidazopurine nucleosides from N6-aryl adenosine derivatives by PhI(OAc)2-mediated C–N bond formation, no metal neededChemical Communications 201753, 2226–2229. DOI: 10.1039/C6CC07722F
Featured on the back cover of issue 14


Lakshman, M. K.*; Tine, F. A.; Khandaker, T. A.; Basava V.; Agyemang, N. B.; Benavidez, M. S. A.; Gaši, M.; Guerrera, L.; Zajc B.* KHF2: a mild and selective desilylating agent for phenol t-butyldimethyl (TBDMS) ethers. Synthesis 201728, 381–385. DOI: 10.1055/s-0036-1588350


Basava, V.; Yang, L.; Pradan, P.; Lakshman, M. K.* A novel bis(pinacolato)diboron-mediated N–O bond deoxygenative route to C6 benzotriazolyl purine nucleoside derivatives. Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry 2016, 14, 7069–7083. DOI: 10.1039/c6ob01170e


Singh, M. K.; Akula, H. K.; Satishkumar, S.; Stahl, L.; Lakshman, M. K.* Ruthenium-catalyzed C–H bond activation approach to azolyl aminals and hemiaminal ethers, mechanistic evaluations, and isomer interconversion. ACS Catalysis 2016, 6, 1921–1928. DOI: 10.1021/acscatal.5b02603
Featured on the front cover of issue 3


Singh, M. K.; Lakshman, M. K.* Diarylmethanes via an unprecedented Pd-catalyzed C–C cross coupling of 1-(aryl)methoxy-1H-benzotriazoles with arylboronic acids. ChemCatChem 2015, 7, 4156–4162. DOI: 10.1002/cctc.201500818


Gurram. V.; Akula, H. K.; Garlapati, R.; Pottabathini, N.; Lakshman, M. K.* Mild and general access to diverse 1H-benzotriazoles via diboron mediated N–OH deoxygenation, and Pd-catalyzed C–C and C–N bond formation. Advanced Synthesis and Catalysis 2015, 357, 451–462. DOI: 10.1002/adsc.201400889


Satishkumar, S.; Vuram, P. K.; Relangi, S. S.; Gurram, V.; Zhou, H.; Kreitman, R. J.; Montemayor, M. M.; Yang, L.; Kaliyaperumal, M.; Sharma, S.; Pottabathini, N.; Lakshman, M. K.* Cladribine analogues via O6-(benzotriazolyl) derivatives of guanine nucleosides. Molecules 201520, 18437–18463. DOI: 10.3390/molecules201018437

Yedulla, V. R.; Pradhan, P.; Yang, L.; Lakshman, M. K.* Cycloaddition of arynes and cyclic enol ethers as a platform for access to stereochemically defined 1,2-disubstituted benzocyclobutenes. European Journal of Organic Chemistry 2015, 750–764. DOI: 10.1002/ejoc.201403250


Lakshman, M. K.*; Singh, M. K.; Kumar, M.; Chamala, R. R.; Yedulla, V. R.; Wagner, D.; Leung, E.; Yang. L.; Matin, A.; Ahmad, S. Facile synthesis of 1-alkoxy-1H-benzo- and 7-azabenzotriazoles from peptide coupling agents, mechanistic studies, and synthetic applications. Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry 2014, 10, 1919–1932. DOI: 10.3762/bjoc.10.200


Chamala, R. R.; Parrish, D.; Pradhan, P.; Lakshman, M. K.* Purinyl N1-directed C-H oxidation in 6-arylpurines and 6-arylpurine nucleosides. The Journal of Organic Chemistry 2013, 78, 7423-7435. DOI: 10.1021/jo4008282


Akula, H. K.; Lakshman, M. K.* Synthesis of deuterated 1,2,3-triazoles. The Journal of Organic Chemistry 2012, 77, 8896-8904. DOI: 10.1021/jo301146j


Lakshman, M. K.*; Kumar, A.; Balachandran, R.; Day, B. W.; Andrei, G.; Snoeck, R.; Balzarini, J. Synthesis and biological properties of C-2 triazolyl inosine derivatives. The Journal of Organic Chemistry 2012, 77, 5870-5883. DOI: 10.1021/jo300628y
Editor selected featured article in issue 14


Gurram, V.; Pottabathini, N.; Garlapati, R.; Chaudhary, A. B.; Patro, B.; Lakshman, M. K.* C-C cross-coupling reactions of O6-alkyl-2-haloinosine derivatives and a one-pot cross-coupling/O6-deprotection procedure. Chemistry-An Asian Journal, 2012, 7, 1853-1861. DOI: 10.1002/asia.201200093
Featured on the front cover of issue 8


Invited Protocol (peer reviewed)
Kokatla, H. P.; Lakshman, M. K* Two-step, one-pot synthesis of inosine, guanosine, and 2'-deoxyguanosine O6-ethers, Current Protocols in Nucleic Acid Chemistry 2012, 49, 1.26.1-1.26.16. DOI: 10.1002/0471142700.nc0126s49

Lakshman, M. K.*; Deb, A.; Chamala, R. R.; Pradhan, P.; Pratap, R. Direct arylation of 6-phenylpurine and 6-arylpurine nucleosides by ruthenium-catalyzed C-H bond activation. Angewandte Chemie, International Edition 2011, 50, 11400-11404. DOI: 10.1002/anie.201104035
Featured on the inside cover of issue 48


Kokatla, H. P.; Thomson, P. F.; Bae, S.; Doddi, V. R.; Lakshman, M. K.* Facile reduction of amine N-oxides by diboron compounds. The Journal of Organic Chemistry 2011, 76, 7842-7848. DOI: 10.1021/jo201192c


Kokatla, H. P.; Lakshman, M. K.* One-pot etherification of purine nucleosides and pyrimidines. Organic Letters 2010, 12, 4478-4881. DOI: 10.1021/ol101655h


Thomson, P. F.; Lagisetty, P.; Balzarini, J.; De Clercq, E.; Lakshman, M. K.* Palladium-catalyzed aryl amination reactions of 6-bromo and 6-chloropurine nucleosides. Advanced Synthesis and Catalysis 2010, 352, 1728-1735. DOI: 10.1002/adsc.200900728


Kumar, A.; Akula, H. K.; Lakshman, M. K.* Simple synthesis of amides and Weinreb amides using PPh3 or polymer-supported PPh3 and iodine. European Journal of Organic Chemistry 2010, 2709-2715. DOI: 10.1002/ejoc.200901420
Highlighted in Synfacts 2010, #8, 968


Lakshman, M. K.*; Singh, M. K.; Parrish, D.; Balachandran, R.; Day, B. W. Azide-tetrazole equilibrium of C-6 azidopurine nucleosides and their ligation reactions with alkynes. The Journal of Organic Chemistry 2010, 75, 2461-2473. DOI: 10.1021/jo902342z


Pratap, R.; Parrish, D.; Gunda, P.; Venkatraman, D. V.; Lakshman, M. K.* Influence of biaryl phosphine structure on C-N and C-C bond formation. Journal of the American Chemical Society 2009, 131, 12240-12249. DOI: 10.1021/ja902679b


Lakshman, M. K.*; Frank, J. A simple method for C-6 modification of guanine nucleosides. Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry 2009, 7, 2933-2940. DOI: 10.1039/B905298D
Featured on the cover of issue 14


Singh, M. K.; Lakshman, M. K.* A simple synthesis of nitriles from aldoximes. The Journal of Organic Chemistry 2009, 74, 3079-3084. DOI: 10.1021/jo900100v
Among the "Top 20 most downloaded articles for the previous month" (April 2009)
Highlighted in ChemInform 2009, 40, doi: 10.1002/chin.200935087


Invited Protocol (peer reviewed)
Bae, S.; Chaturvedi, S.; Lakshman, M. K.* O6-(Benzotriazol-1-yl)inosine derivatives for modification at the C-6 of purine nucleosides. Current Protocols in Nucleic Acid Chemistry 200936, 1.22.1–1.22.23. DOI: 10.1002/0471142700.nc0122s36

Lakshman, M. K.*; Choudhury, A.; Bae, S.; Rochttis, E.; Pradhan, P.; Kumar, A. Synthesis of N6,N6-dialkyl adenine nucleosides using hexaalkylphosphorus triamides produced in situ. European Journal of Organic Chemistry 2009, 152–159. DOI: 10.1002/ejoc.200800752

Bae, S.; Lakshman, M. K.* Synthetic utility of an isolable nucleoside phosphonium salt. Organic Letters 200810, 2203–2206. DOI: 10.1021/ol8006106

Bae, S.; Lakshman, M. K.* A novel polymer supported approach to nucleoside modification. The Journal of Organic Chemistry 200873, 3707–3713. DOI: 10.1021/jo702558n

Lagisetty, P.; Zhang, L.; Lakshman, M. K.* Simple methodology for Heck arylation at the C-8 of adenine nucleosides. Advanced Synthesis & Catalysis 2008350, 602–608. DOI: 10.1002/adsc.200700418

Bae, S.; Lakshman, M. K.* Unusual deoxygenation and reactivity studies related to O6-(benzotriazol-1-yl)inosine derivatives. The Journal of Organic Chemistry 200873, 1311–1319. DOI: 101021/jo7021795

Awards and Honors

  • 2021–2022: Fulbright Scholar Awardee (travel and research in 2022 and 2023 due to the pandemic)
  • 2019: City University of New York Graduate Center Award for Excellence in Mentoring
  • 2018: One of two recipients of The City College of New York President's Award for Excellence
  • 2018: F1000 Faculty Member, Chemical Biology (Small Molecule Chemistry)
  • 2016: Elected Fellow of The Royal Society of Chemistry
  • 2014: In Honor of Outstanding Scholarly Achievements and Contributions to the Creation and Transmittal of Knowledge  Certificate of Recognition from The City University of New York
  • 2014: Recipient of a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship
  • 2013: Visiting Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, September-November
  • 2012: In Honor of Outstanding Scholarly Achievements and Contributions to the Creation and Transmittal of Knowledge Certificate of Recognition from the City University of New York
  • 2011: The City College of New York President's S.T.A.R. (Service, Teamwork, Action, and Results) Award
  • 2011: Excellent Service to the Editors and Authors of EurJOC European Journal of Organic Chemistry Certificate of Recognition from Wiley-VCH and ChemPubSoc Europe
  • 2007: In Honor of Outstanding Scholarly Achievements to the Creation and Transmittal of Knowledge Certificate of Recognition from the City University of New York
  • 2007: Certificate of Appreciation from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for Commitment to Advancing Underrepresented Minority Students in Mathematics, Science and Engineering and for Partnering with the Foundation's Minority Program
  • 2007: Profiled in the June 1 issue of India Abroad
  • 2006: For Securing Major Institutional Grant Funds in 2005 Certificate of Recognition from the City University of New York
  • 2004: In Honor of Outstanding Scholarly Achievements to the Creation and Transmittal of Knowledge Certificate of Recognition from The City University of New York
  • 2003: Outstanding Mentor Award The City College of New York
  • 2002: In Honor of Outstanding Scholarly Achievements to the Creation and Transmittal of Knowledge Certificate of Recognition from The City University of New York
  • 2001: In Honor of Outstanding Scholarly Achievements to the Creation and Transmittal of Knowledge Certificate of Recognition from The City University of New York

Federal Grant Awards

NSF Logo

  • CHE-0130787 (De-facto Principal Investigator): Purchase of a Circular Dichroic Spectrophotometer for Research and Teaching
  • CHE-0210295 (Principal Investigator): Acquisition of a 500 MHz NMR Spectrometer for Research and Teaching
  • CHE-0314326 (Principal Investigator): Novel Avenues to Nucleoside Modification by Palladium Catalysis
  • CHE-0520963 (Principal Investigator): Acquisition of a Mass Spectrometer for Research and Teaching
  • CHE-0640417 (Principal Investigator): Novel Avenues to Nucleoside Modification via Catalysis Methods
  • CHE-1265687 (Principal Investigator): Catalysis Chemistry Involving Nucleosides and Related Heterocycles
  • CHE-1953574 (Principal Investigator): Novel Approaches to Modifications of Nucleosides and Related Heterocycles

NIH logo

  • R15CA094224 (Principal Investigator): Regio and Stereochemically Defined Diol Epoxide Adducted Ras
  • S06GM008168-24S1 (Principal Investigator): Palladium Catalyzed C-N, C-C, and C-O Bond Formation: Novel Nucleoside Structures
  • S06GM008168-27 (Principal Investigator): Synthesis and Studies of Site-Specific Carcinogen-DNA Lesions
  • R21AI094545 (Principal Investigator): Synthetic Methodology to Access Novel Antivirals


Service to Community (selected)

Editorial Board Member
  • Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry
  • Current Organic Synthesis
  • Molecules
  • Chemistry Biology Interface
  • Current Chemical Biology
  • Acta Chimica Slovenica.

Ad hoc and Panel Reviewer for Federal and International Agencies

  • The National Institutes of Health
  • The National Science Foundation
  • The American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund
  • Royal Society Research Fund (UK)
  • National Center of Science and Technology (Kazakhstan)
  • Czech National Foundation

Reviewer for National and International Journals

• ACS Catalysis • ACS Omega • Advanced Synthesis & Catalysis • Angewandte Chemie International Edition • Archiv der Pharmazie • Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry • Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters • Carcinogenesis • Catalysis Communications • ChemCatChem • Chemical Communications • Chemical Research in Toxicology • Chemical Reviews • Chemistry An Asian Journal • Chemistry A European Journal • ChemistryOpen • European Journal of Organic Chemistry • Inorganic Chemistry • Journal of the American Chemical Society • Journal of Medicinal Chemistry • Journal of Physical Chemistry • Medicinal Chemistry Communications • Nature Protocols • Nature Scientific Reports • New Journal of Chemistry • Nucleosides and Nucleotides • Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry • Organic Chemistry Frontiers • Organic Letters • RSC Advances • Synlett • Synthesis • Synthetic Communications •Tetrahedron • Tetrahedron Letters • The Journal of Organic Chemistry

Administrative Service

  • Vice Chair, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, The City College of New York
  • Member, Graduate Admissions Committee
  • Executive Officer, The City University of New York Ph.D. Program in Chemistry
  • Chair, Masters Program Committee
  • Chair, Search Committee for a Lecturer in Organic Chemistry
  • Chair, Search Committee for a Faculty Member in Organic Chemistry
  • Member, Outstanding Teaching/Mentoring Award Committee
  • Member, Search Committee for a Faculty Member in Organic Chemistry
  • Member, Search Committee for Organic and Biochemistry Technicians
  • Member, Executive Committee of the Chemistry Department
  • Member, Search Committee for NMR Facility Manager